Autumn is the time of harvests – the summer heat has been filling the earth up for the last few joyful months, and now the sunny days are winding in on themselves and the days are growing chilly, but the end of the heat gives us something else – summer days are over but instead we are rewarded with the abundance produced by the earth.
This abundance doesn’t appear out of nowhere – the amazing fruits produced are the direct result of the carefully planted seeds, the hours and hours of absorbing sunlight, and patience of letting the growing magic happen.
(My beautiful friend Jenni has a remarkable garden which has produced a glut of rainbow vegetables, many of which she has given away to me and other lucky friends!)
This is a beautiful example of cause and effect – one of the key principles of yogic philosophy, which you may have heard refer to as ‘karma’ . In yoga we understand that every action and every event leaves an impression on us, called samskara, and these then influence how we react and choose to act in the future.
Where we are now depends 100% on where we have been and what we have done on the way.
Everyone’s experience, then, is completely unique. This is why it’s so unproductive to compare ourselves with others. We shouldn’t give ourselves a hard time if we can’t do something – we all have our circumstances. Each of us plants our seeds in different soil, and no one has the same sun exposure or rainfall. All of our achievements and everything we are has come from the unique combination of factors that has influenced us.
It’s for that reason, too, that we can’t expect to suddenly achieve our goals without taking some action towards that end. This is one of yoga’s moral principles – asteya, which means ‘non-stealing’. We don’t covet what’s not ours, and without some action our goals can’t become ours either.
This may seem harsh – but in fact it should be a comfort. This is why we say ‘do your practice and all is coming’. Because of cause and effect you can know for sure that whatever you do now will bring you results!
We practise this every time we step on the mat. Yoga asana is hard! and it’s meant to be – we challenge ourselves to find our mental edge and make ourselves resilient as a diamond. And the practice is a wonderful measuring stick of how things can change. It can be very reassuring to see how with consistency and patience, things that seemed impossible can become suddenly accessible.
I remember trying eka pada koundinyasana back in 2014 and the thought going through my head like, ‘What? How? Like, what? how is that possible?’ – and now, it’s one of my favourite poses.
The fruits of your work may not always be what you expect but with honest effort you will always get honest rewards. It’s so easy to wish we were already at the finish line – but we don’t rush through summer just to get to harvest, we enjoy every golden droplet of sunshine. So should we be grateful for where we are now, while knowing that it will always take us somewhere amazing.
This also means that we can also be grateful for where we have been, no matter how messy or frustrating it might have seemed at the time. It all goes into the mulch, fertilising our experience – and look at all the riches it has brought us now. Knowledge, wisdom, friends and adventure, pumpkins and chard, and maybe a cheeky eka pada..